Leon has been a pleasant surprise, standing up to the powerhouse teams halfway through the Liga MX season. On Saturday against Santos, “La Fiera” goes for their sixth straight win.
Last week, León completed its sweep of Mexico City teams, beating the Pumas on the road. The win kept “Los Panzas Verdes” securely in third place in the standings (17 points) and boosted them to the top of our Power Rankings. Leon has shown impressive league form but were bumped from the Copa MX by second division Juarez after a penalty-kick shootout.
On Saturday night, León will get an opportunity in front of their fans to forget the Copa MX disappointment and push its winning streak in league play to six. But Santos is no pushover. The Guerreros have won their past four matches in all competitions by a combined 17-3 scoreline.
Ecuadorian Angel Mena has been nothing short of phenomenal for Leon after coming over from Cruz Azul where he was given little playing time. The attacking midfielder is tied for the league lead with seven goals and is the leader with six assists. He is a clear MVP candidate through eight games.
But Mena has not been the only revelation for coach Ignacio Ambriz. Youngster Jose Juan Macias has put on a show week in and week out. The 19-year-old striker is on loan from the Chivas and he scored yet again on Sunday against the Pumas. Macias now has five goals in the tournament and is quickly proving to Leon fans that there is life after Mauro Boselli, the club’s second all-time leading scorer with 125 goals. Boselli was not re-signed after the Apertura 2018 season and now play in Brazil for Corinthians.
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Also enjoying a fine season is midfield general Luis Montes. Although he gets overlooked because of the production of Mena and Macias, “El Chapito” is the critical link between the back line and the attackers.
The Esmeraldas also boast one of the league’s top defenses, and in fact are tied with the Tigres in fewest goals allowed (6).
Santos follows Leon in the league table, in 4th place with 14 points and coming off a big 4-0 win vs Toluca.
Los Guerreros” have a dynamic offense that is just beginning to gel. Javier Correa was brought in over the winter to replace the departed Jona Rodríguez and his 9 goals. Correa is beginning to get comfortable in his role and is forming a positive partnership with striker Julio Furch. He has 3 goals on the season and contributed a hat trick against Marathon in the Concacaf Champions League.
Another newcomer, Diego Valdes, is also stepping up. Valdes joined Santos from Morelia this season and has added attacking flair to the team’s midfield. Winger Ayrton Preciado, is also enjoying a productive season up front.
At the back, Santos has one of the league’s best central defense tandems in Brazilian Doria and Argentine Hugo Nervo. Behind them, Jonathan Orozco continues to be a top-notch goalie.
Leon has not taken their foot off the pedal, and they should be confident since they have held their own against almost every top team in the Liga MX. With “La Fiera” playing in front of their home fans, Santos should not be a big worry although Santos’ offense can be crazy scary. This should be a very even match, but at home Leon will not want to disappoint their fans.